Saturday, 5 October 2013

Letter To Myself Aged 16

I have just read a piece by Stella Young, the editor of RampUp who wrote a letter to her 16 year old self. As usual, our perspectives are dramatically different, so rather than be 'inspired' by her piece, I felt a need to write my own truth. While I respect Stella for her honesty, I will say that fans of her initial piece will probably find the following uncomfortable.

Dear Todd,

I know you hate the place you're in right now. You miss your friends, your sense of identity is gone, you have no real friends, and you're stuck in high school. I have temporary comfort for you, whoever said high school is the best time of your life was full of shit. It is probably one of the worst periods you will ever experience. Continue to make the most of your free time, keep reading books. You don't think so now, but it will make your life so much better.

You are currently at the first turning point of your life. The people who you are grieving for are of no consequence to you from now on. Keep your head down and keep going. This is what you are good at. Use the next two years to absorb as much information as you can. Embrace the move away from Adelaide, it will be the best decision somebody else made for you.

Now for the most important information you will ever learn.

Life is unfair. It is cruel. Don't pretend otherwise. Your physical disability is not something you can 'deal with.' Until they prove the opposite, people are ignorant, judgmental, and will not treat you with the respect you deserve. This will make you angry, very angry. Do not wait another decade to address it like I did. Know that the anger is there inside you and don't deny it. Unfortunately there is more bad news.

You think your romantic life is terrible now? Apart from a few brief shining moments it does not get any better. I know you are fragile and you wear your heart on your sleeve, but please be careful. I still haven't found peace of mind in this area. I'm not going to tell you that you will never find it, but do not turn yourself upside down to find this peace. It will destroy you.

And now for the good news.

Now that you have moved interstate you are finally able to challenge yourself. Despite what you tell yourself, you are smarter at age 29 than you could have ever possibly imagined. You will do great things not because you are inspirational, but because you have to prove to people that you are capable of greatness. The toughest critic will always be yourself. Give yourself a break, and have a little fun. You will need it.

It will take you years to find the friends you need. Right now you don't think you need friends, but you do. While you think you are satisfied with your own company, you are in extreme denial. Your friends will be the most important people in your life. Accept that you will need support, comfort, and that you can not solve every problem yourself. Beyond the definable brain damage that caused your disability, your brain is not 'otherwise full proof'. Your logic is flawed and you NEED people to bounce ideas off.

The best news of all is that there is life beyond your parents' walls. It will take superhuman strength to find it, but it will be there. If you have faith in nothing else (and I know you, you don't) have faith in this. You will appreciate your freedom all the more because of the struggle to attain it.

Life will never be as satisfying as you wish it to be, but it does get much better than it is now. You will never believe me, but it is.

Todd (Aged 29 and 10 months)

1 comment:

  1. Such a great post Todd. You are honest and with intelligent hindsight. I love your writing a lot.